Dundalk FC left-winger Nathan Murphy says his new role will “take time” to adapt to, having had a limited run there during pre-season.
After renewing the youngster’s contract in early January, manager Seán McCaffrey stated his intention to play Murphy on the flank rather than at full-back, where he had spent virtually his entire time up to then having broke into the first-team in 2009.
However, with Eoghan Osborne absent due to injury and Dan Cunningham in college, Murphy found himself in defence for much of the pre-season schedule.
Having missed the previous weekend’s win over Finn Harps, the 19-year-old finally got a run-out on the wing in the cross-border cup victory over Newry City on Sunday, but he knows that it will take time before he settles into his new position.
“There has been a bit of slagging before nearly every game in pre-season because when Seán is naming the team and he gets to left-back you just know he’s going to look at you!” Murphy smiled as he spoke to dundalkfc.com.
“But I got a chance on Sunday. I was a bit sluggish in myself but it’s going to take time. It’s not going to happen straight away for me.
“I played with Dan at the weekend and he’s a bit like me. He’s not naturally a left-back, but he did well.
“Hopefully, we can form a good partnership.”
Dundalk kick off their league campaign with a trip to bogey ground Gortakeegan where they face Monaghan United on Friday night.
But for Murphy, he can’t wait to make the short trip north, and the local star – who became the youngest ever player to make 50 competitive appearances for the club last July – is confident that past meetings will have no bearing on this latest encounter.
“I can’t wait for Friday. I think all the lads are the same,” he said.
“It has been a good pre-season. We have played well in the majority of our games, and we’re looking forward to the weekend now.
“I’ve loved working under Seán. He drills a lot of information into the lads. He talks for a while and he makes sure everyone is tuned in.
“The team-talks are long but he makes sure you know what jobs you’re doing and he gets everyone into the right mindset before a game.
“A few of the lads that have had him before, like Stephen (McDonnell), have said that before games he gets you really motivated, which is a big thing going onto the pitch.
“Monaghan has not been a good place for Dundalk but history can be re-written.
“We’ll go there on Friday and give it our all. We’re going there to win the game.
“People can’t let anything that has gone before get into their head. We have just got to go there and win the game, and that’s the way we’ll be approaching it on Friday.
“People have got to be patient, though. It’s not a must-win game. It’s only the first game of the season.
“Every single game is going to be difficult, whether it’s home or away.
“We’ll do our best on Friday and hopefully that is good enough.
“Seán has brought in a lot of young players and it’s going to take time for everyone to gel. But the whole squad is getting on really, really well together.
“There are some brilliant footballers here, and I think if people give us time then we can do well. It’s a work-in-progress.
“We have got to be realistic about our hopes for the season. At the moment, you can’t be saying where we’re going to finish.
“But we’ll be giving it everything and trying to finish as high up the table as possible.”
Pre-season saw Murphy net his first ever goal for the club at senior level as he scored a superb free-kick against Ballinamallard United in Ferney Park.
“I really enjoyed that,” he said.
“If free-kicks are on the right side, I want them!
“If you ask any players from the youths teams, I always hit them and scored a few. I never really got the chance here before; the likes of Quigs (Mark Quigley) and Ross (Gaynor) always wanted them.
“This year, Seán has had a look at me and he has seen the way I can hit them.
“I’ve enjoyed all the games in pre-season. I’ve missed some game-time because of a couple of niggles, but that’s what happens in pre-season; people will get niggles and knocks getting back to full fitness.
“I don’t feel I’m 100 percent yet but that will come with games.
“I think overall the preparations have gone really well, and we’re looking forward to the real business now.”